As 2017 draws to a close it is as good a time as any to take stock on what 2017 gave us, both good and bad, before looking ahead to what 2018 is likely to bring.
It has been a year of some highs, along with some crashing lows, but 2018 is shaping up to be very interesting indeed. Let’s get into it.
The year opened with a bang, with Wheel Women taking its inaugural ride. This joining of forces between The Bike Shed, Welsh Cycling and Cardiff Met saw an impressive number of women take to their bikes to make new friends and get fit.
Of course, cycling is not just about making friends and getting fit. It is arguably one of the best ways you can possibly travel to work too. Yes it is great for your health, helping you to clear your head and your lungs before the day ahead but it is also one of the fastest ways into Cardiff.
On the subject of speed, in the Spring we learned that the Tour of Britain was coming to Cardiff. An event that would put the icing on a few months of cycling events in Cardiff –the Velothon, the HSBC City Ride and finally the final stage of the Tour of Britain would finish here.
Sadly it wasn’t all fun. We had to deal with our fair share of stupidity and cognitive dissonance. We were reminded of the uphill battle we have with the media and the regular folk. A youngster by the name of Charlie Alliston crashed into 44-year old Kim Briggs and she sadly lost her life. The media then proceeded to lose its mind. It’s strange, because when people are run over by cars it barely raises an eyebrow. Then again, when people are killed at the hands of motorists, it is rarely the motorist’s fault…apparently.
We also learned that more of us are having our bikes nicked in Cardiff. It hopefully means that there are more of us now, but it could also be that a frustrating number of you are still using cable locks.
We also dealt with the rather tired tropes about car parking. We’re certainly hoping that this will finally die in 2018. It’s unlikely, but we can hope.
On a more positive note, this year we visited Bespoked for the first time…and it was good. It was a little expensive though, particularly as Restrap were there and their stuff is quite excellent. So many small frame builders and hand-made accessory makers to see. Definitely worth taking the train down to Bristol Temple Meads for a few hours.
It was also our first introduction to Boneshaker Magazine. Little did we know at the time, but we discovered them a few years too late and 2017 would see the release of their last issue. Sad times.
Looking back, very little of 2017 was spent actually cycling. I personally made it out for just one big ride, when Dave and I went looking for a 10/10 climb up near the A465. Fortunately our friends were getting busy. Dan went on a sportive binge, trying most of the big ones before compiling a bumper review for us. Steff also did a sportive or two, too, although he may have bitten off a little more than he could chew with the Castles and Cathedrals.
Whilst we are on the subject of big rides, this year we lost a legend in Mike Hall. Mike was a man who took on big rides and made them look easy. Mike was competing in the Indian Pacific Wheelrace in Australia only to be killed by a motorist in the final quarter of the race. Mike was a man who brought bikepacking into the public consciousness, thanks in no small part to Mike Dion’s excellent Inspired to Ride. If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing a treat.
A look ahead…
The new year looks to start as it means to go on. In North Cardiff, Julie Morgan AM is holding a cycling event at Whitchurch Rugby Club on 20th January. Drop in between 10am and 1:30. We’ll be there, no doubt helping to tend the Cardiff Cycle City stand.
On the subject of Cardiff Cycle City, we’ve been busy this year working to get Operation Close Pass introduced in Cardiff, not to mention Operation: SNAP. The new year will see us finally getting those dangerous passes enforced.
Operation Close Pass is being planned now, with equipment arriving and training being completed during December to tie in with the other initiatives, then it will be rolled out officially in the New Year.
This is an excellent start. 2017 saw the election of a new intake of Councillors and cycling is firmly on the agenda of not just the cabinet member responsible for transport, Caro Wild, but the council leader too.
In May 2018 we’ll also see 25 docking stations installed on the streets of Cardiff along with 250 hire bikes. Just this week we were invited to the press launch of the new nextbike hire scheme.
With close passes being policed and hire bikes on the streets, all we need now is some infrastructure. As it turns out, when we did our deep dive on the network maps there was one thing that proved particularly irksome to some of you. Yes, the primary routes were potentially a big improvement, but just how do you get to them?
With the remaining routes kicked into the long-ish grass, unless you lived literally “on” a primary route you were unlikely to see much improvement any time soon. Thankfully, with a bit of encouragement from Cardiff Cycle City, the council has promised to look at it again in the coming year.
Car free day
The council is also planning to make up for the dampest of damp squibs that was the previous “car free” day. It won’t be at the same time as the World Car Free Day, but there is talk of closing much of the city centre for it.
Rumour has it it’ll be in or around May, helpfully coinciding with the new hire scheme.
Whatever happens, things “feel” different this time around. Speaking to the council officers at the nextbike launch was a wholly positive experience. We’re expecting big things from this council, particularly now that they’ve partnered with HSBC and Welsh Cycling following the success of the city ride.
We also managed to inspire someone to take on the challenge of setting up a Cardiff Slow Roll and, following some networking at the Cardiff Cycle City Christmas party, plans will hopefully start in the new year.
It seems to be shaping up to be an exciting year. I do hope you’ll come along with us for the ride. A happy new year to each and every one of you.